RTO vs TAFE – what’s the difference?
Deciding where to study can be challenging, with seemingly many options to choose from to enrol in the same course. Certificates and Diplomas are delivered by a number of Vocational Education and Training (VET) institutions, but when making your decision, it’s good to understand the key differences between the available providers of VET.
Because of the practical nature of VET and the focus on learning outcomes for specific careers, VET is a popular way to train or upskill. It can also provide pathways to higher studies. In 2017, 4.2 million students were enrolled in either a certificate, a diploma or an advanced diploma course according to figures from NCVER.
VET appeals to mature age learners and school leavers alike. In 2017, also according to NCVER, the estimated participation rate of VET students in Australia as a proportion of the Australian population aged 15 to 64 years was 24.1%, with participation highest among those aged 15 to 19 years 46.1%.
In Australia, you’re most likely to take up your chosen course at an RTO (Registered Training Organisation) or at a TAFE (Technical and Further Education). NCVER figures cite that in 2017 over 2.4 million students chose to undertake their training with a registered training organisation (RTO), and over 739,000 chose to undertake their training with a TAFE.
While these providers may offer many certificates and diplomas of the same name, there are key differences to their approach.
Let’s learn a little more about the differences between RTOs and TAFEs:
What is an RTO?
An RTO (Registered Training Organisation) is a privately-owned provider of nationally-accredited courses. As RTOs need to stay competitive in the industry, it is generally agreed that RTOs offer students more guidance and hands-on experience with practical placement and strive to develop strong relationships with industry.
RTOs are also more likely to offer all or a proportion of their training online. Even when you take up the option of studying online, a dedicated trainer will normally offer a wealth of support and guidance to help their learners to achieve their goals.
In addition, RTOs also tend to be more specialised, focusing on particular industry or niche be it be child care, aged care, hospitality, building or business.
What is TAFE?
Technical and Further Education is something you have likely not heard of, because most of us know it by it by its acronym: TAFE. These colleges are financed, owned and operated by the Australian government. Also called technical or career courses, traditionally when compared to university these courses are said to place an emphasis on occupational skills and cover a wide variety of professions and trades. Their certificate and diploma courses are nationally accredited.
TAFE courses are an option if you are looking for a broad certification, though class sizes tend to be larger. They also tend to specialise in classroom delivery rather than online.
Things to consider when choosing where to study
When comparing TAFE courses and RTO courses, it’s worth noting that the quality of RTOs can vary. Some students have been left dismayed with the closure of RTOs, so you need to do your research. There have also been recent cases where TAFE courses have not gone ahead due to issues with numbers or the ability to source placements. Each VET training provider should be assessed on a case by case basis.
Don’t let the RTO vs TAFE decision confuse you too much — your choice of provider should come down to the quality of the training, the availability of the course you want to study, the learning mode that best suits you and the support you’ll get along the way.
Royal College of Healthcare is an RTO you can trust when it comes to choosing where to study. We have been training for 15 years and are committed to educating students to thrive in their chosen career. Our specialised courses and passionate trainers ensure that students graduate with the knowledge and capabilities they need to succeed in the real world.
Whichever training institute you choose, make sure that you keep the end goal in sight. Remember that you have to put in the effort to be able to reap its rewards! Don’t be fearful of hard work and keep focusing on your end goal!